Partners in Prevention

By Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson

In its quest to cure the causes of foodborne illness outbreaks, the United States is doubling down on prevention.

In 2011 the United States passed the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act, a set of regulations and guidance aimed at curtailing the estimated 48 million incidents of individual illness annually before they happen. The act’s platform includes preventive controls, inspection and compliance, new tools regarding imported foods, FDA mandatory recall authority, and enhanced partnerships in the form of collaborative training programs.

Illinois Tech’s Institute for Food Safety and Health will be the FDA’s lead partner on the collaboration and training component, partnering to create the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance. The FSPCA will provide an international training program that includes a core curriculum, technical assistance, and outreach for the domestic and foreign manufacturers of human and animal foods.

Headquartered at IFSH’s Moffett Campus in Bedford Park, Illinois, the FSPCA program will train manufacturers in standard controls and practices of more than a dozen topics ranging from biological food safety hazards to record keeping to verification and validation procedures.

Robert Brackett, director of IFSH, says the new training program will affect more than 80,000 domestic and 200,000 international firms that produce food products for sale in the U.S. He adds that the new FSPCA regulations are superior to past government efforts to improve the safety of the food supply, which required companies to prove only that specified controls were in place—not that they were fully understood or verifiable.

“These FSPCA regulations use similar prevention mechanisms but also require companies to show additional ways that they are demonstrably decreasing risk. This includes employee education, better product sourcing, and the elimination of environmental risks,” Brackett says. “A standard framework will mean fewer mistakes.”

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FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA